Press Office


International expert in genetics joins NHS England board


Professor Sir John Burn has been appointed a non-executive director of NHS England by the Secretary of State .

Professor Burn, together with Noel Gordon and David Roberts, will be joining the existing group of six non-executive directors with effect from 1 July 2014, for a period of four years.

As a part of his new role, Professor Burn will help the NHS plan for the future to improve healthcare services and make sure that the finances of the organisation are managed properly with accurate information. Non-executive directors have a chance to influence strategy and are involved in complex problem solving. 

The chair of NHS England Professor Sir Malcolm Grant welcomed the appointment of the new non-executive directors. He said: “I am delighted that it has been possible to make three such high-calibre appointments. Our new non-executive directors bring additional strengths to the Board, enhancing our scientific and clinical capacity and also our commitment to innovation in transforming NHS services through commissioning to the benefit of patients.”

Professor of Clinical Genetics at Newcastle University, Sir John was instrumental in the foundation of the internationally renowned Centre for Life in Newcastle in 2000. He is a distinguished academic, clinician and clinical entrepreneur having founded two spin out companies in the field of genetic diagnostics.

His pioneering research, spanning over 30 years, has resulted in over 400 publications in a wide-range of areas in the medical field. Processor Burn leads an international consortium investigating cancer prevention in those at high genetic risk.

He is a former medical director of Newcastle University’s Department of Human Genetics. The department evolved into the Institute of Human Genetics (IHG) in 2001 to reflect the increased emphasis on world-leading translational research, with Professor Burn serving as Director from 2005 to 2010. The IHG is now the Institute of Genetic Medicine.

On learning of his appointment, Professor Burn said: "This is an exciting challenge and I hope to make a useful contribution. I am looking forward to taking up my role at the beginning of next month."

Professor Burn was knighted in the 2010 New Year’s Honours list for services to Medicine and Healthcare. Readers may recall that Professor Burn was chosen by popular vote as one of 20 "local heroes" from the last 60 years to have a brass plaque set into Newcastle Quayside.

published on: 1 July 2014